How to Find Fulfillment - The Secret to Happiness | Karen McGregor | TEDxStanleyPark

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it is sad that life doesn't come with a


it comes with a mother when I gave birth

to my first son Matthew I wish I had a

manual all I wanted was for my child to

be happy

Matthew cried non-stop but he wasn't the

only one crying from the outside I had

the perfect life a beautiful son a

supportive husband a secure job but on

the inside I was one of the most

unfulfilled people around lack of

fulfillments the primary reason that

millions of people live lives of apathy

and imbalance unfulfilled people are

often depressed disengaged and

disconnected that was me for over 15


see when you're unfulfilled you just

want to escape reality your confidence

sinks you become bitter or simply lose

interest in people in life you think

maybe the problem will go away if I just

take that exotic vacation by that swanky

car or find that special someone and

when those dreams are derailed addiction

is the next stop on the train wreck over

1 million Canadians are addicted to

prescription drugs 7 million abuse

alcohol and 6 million or chronic smokers

worldwide we see binging in everything

from food to material possessions all in

the search the fulfillment it took me

years to discover three keys to

fulfillment young children on the other

hand our fulfillment machines have you

ever seen a two-year-old at the beach

a rock adults are easy now you got me in

the eye last time I was a born teacher

my mom tells me at the age of three I

had an imaginary chalkboard and I'd

gather all my friends to learn from me

and if their attention waned I'd bribe

them with special edition Oreo cookies

you know the ones with the industrial

size lumps of chocolate I didn't dream

of being a mermaid a movie star Wonder

Woman although I did love her cape I

just wanted to be a happy and confident

teacher boring but true just two years

into my teaching career my dreams of

making a difference to students and

their futures came crashing down when I

realized how stifling and constricting

the school system really was instead of

using my creativity to ignite a love a

learning and kids I was imprisoned by a

strict set of rules some administrators

sitting somewhere far from my classroom

made the decisions as to what I was to

teach and how but like many of us I went

to work every day with my armor and my

fake smile trying to hide the fact that

I was depressed disillusioned and

frustrated not exactly great qualities

for a school teacher right colleagues

would stop me in the hallway and ask how

are you today Karen I say I'm fine

I'm fine but I never found the courage

to tell them was I'm falling apart well

thank goodness for the law of hitting

rock bottom you know the one where

things can't possibly get any worse so

something amazingly good happens well it

happened to me when I met a tall

smooth-talking good-looking guy oh yeah

easy now it's not that kind of story

well it's sort of is whether you believe

in serendipity or the stars aligning on

a day I didn't even feel like getting

out of bed

my friend drags me to an event where the

keynote speaker is none other than Tony

Robbins I had never seen him live and in

person before so when he bound it up on

the stage and started to speak I thought

wow he has big teeth and his shoes

they're longer than my arm

I get it everybody has their own

opinions about mr. Robbins but two hours

into that talk I was so drinking the

kool-aid every move every single thing

he says and does his thought-provoking

mind expanding but the greatest thing

about Tony is that he really loves what

he's doing in fact I'm sure I heard him

say from stage Karen do what you love

love what you do all right he didn't say

Karen but the impact of those words do

what you love love what you do was

life-changing I knew I had just heard

the first key to fulfillment eight years

of feeling hopeless vanish

instead I'm feeling hopeful and alive

well I couldn't take Tony home with me

that day he's pretty big and my husband

certainly would have noticed but I did

take a good hard look at my life and not

only did I not love what I was doing I

hated my job there was no way I could

have the freedom and creativity that I

craved in the confines of a school

system I was done I had a conversation

with my husband we both agreed there was

only one choice I resigned job is dead

and I'm alive and free like Wonder Woman

but what next

well I desperately wanted to do

something that I'd loved so I went on a

journey of sorts I meditated i journaled

I looked at inspiring pictures and one

day I came across an old photo of me

speaking at my college graduation I was

19 could not put that photo down you see

it brought back magical feelings of me

on that stage looking into the eyes of

my hopeful peers sharing a message that

inspired them and me and that's when it

struck me why can't I have more

fulfilling magical moments like that now

why can't I be a speaker and inspire

thousands but how step into the big

shoes at Tony Robbins you know it's one

thing to think big and have grand plans

it's another to have a mortgage to pay

and be jobless right self-doubt

paralyzed me can i really be a speaker

what if I'm not good enough to make it

what if this newly uncovered passion

fails have you ever had those doubts

well with every what if I turned to wine

talk shows and Oreo cookies they were my

addiction my way of staying safe well in

the middle of all of this muddle my

second child Mitchell comes into this


aha and well he had the cutest round

pinchable Buddha cheeks wouldn't you

agree mm-hmm I was no closer to

fulfilment then when his brother Matthew

was born but who do I turn to for help

well someone you know always has answers


my mom she has no Tony Robbins but a

great source of wisdom nonetheless when

I share my troubles she'd share her

stories well it often found that to be a

mild source of irritation this time I

listened she sat me down at her kitchen

table and by the way my mom's in the

audience tonight thank you so much for

your support all these years


she says Karen dear when your dad and I

first met at the tender age of 16 he

already had a dream of moving to Canada

working in the great outdoors and owning

his own farm by the time that we were 20

he already convinced me to marry him and

move to Canada it was a big risk the

move not the marriage heck your dad was

a real catch but he always saw life as

an adventure so with no money and no

English he still managed to find a job

in Edmonton but it was a stuffy office

job and he hated it dad in an office

never seen him in a dress shirt before

well he couldn't stand it so after two

years he mustered up the courage took a

risk and quit that safe job now we moved

I mean after that we moved to a tiny

little shack in rural Alberta and now

here we are 45 years later your dad's

still working on his farm tending to the

exotic birds and animals and playing

with his grandchildren but none of that

would have come to pass if he didn't

take a risk to do what he loved and I'm

so glad he did I hugged my mom and

rushed outside to find my dad in his

muddy work boots tending to his exotic

birds I said dad why didn't you tell me

you risked it all cupped his hands over

mine and said Karen sometimes in life

you need to risk which you have to get

what you want my only regret is I didn't

risk sooner life is too short and time

too precious he was so right

a few months later

my dad suddenly passed away author Anais

Nin wrote and there came a day when the

risk to remain tight in the bud was more

painful than the risk it took to blossom

that day had arrived for me I was

determined to take risk to brush away

self-doubt to do whatever it took to

blossom that was the day I started my

speaking career I would speak to packed

house of two people I get up on stage

totally mess up and get right back on my

feet the following week my courage and

confidence grew I felt more joy less

fear place became an adventure instead

of a prison and surprise surprise

Matthew starts smiling it's not just

because he's sporting underwear on his

head and his baby brother Mitchell well

he's the Laughing Buddha happy mommy

happy children right well thanks to my

dad I discovered a second key to

fulfillment sometimes in life you need

to risk what you have to get what you

want it doesn't need to be a reckless or

life-threatening risk but where there's

no risk there's no fulfillment well at

that point I became no.1 as the girl

with the eternal smile I was so happy

people thought I was weird they wondered

what kind of kool-aid is she drinkin now

even I became suspicious of my own

happiness wondering well at last his

lasting fulfillment even possible I was

about to be showing the answer one

evening when I was giving a talk at the

end of the talk a lady with long way

curly hair makes her way up the aisle

towards me she's shaking she has a tear

in her eye

and I think did I say something to to

upset her

she says Karen I heard you speak four

months ago and share your story and now

I need to share mine okay

at the time my life was a mess I was

ready to shut the doors to my business

and it devastated me to make that

decision but when I heard your story

about never giving up I went home that

night and your words kept ringing in my


never give up never ever give up so I

made a decision a commitment to myself

that night to make things work now my

business has turned around and I have

hope again you gave me that hope and now

I have my life back

pure joy errupted from every cell of my

body knowing that I could make even the

smallest difference to the life of a

complete stranger and that joy lasted

not only that day but into the following

weeks I just been handed a third key to

fulfillment to it for someone or

something beyond yourself do it in

service to others you see I was trying

so hard for myself and my family but her

words made me think how many more lives

can be impacted by my serving others not

just from the stage but in all aspects

of life I started with small things like

a smile for a stressed out waiter dinner

with a lonely friend and fundraising for

local women's shelter and with each act

my heart filled to the brim with joy

and my doubts were put to rest lasting

fulfillment is possible and it's found

in serving others

well the strange thing was the more I

focused on serving others the less

self-doubt I experienced and the more

risks I took and the more fulfilled

I became look I'm not saying I don't

have down times see me on a bad hair day

and you'll know heck even the Dalai Lama

has bad hair days actually he has no

hair days fulfillment is a practice that

definitely does take practice but for

the last 10 years I do what I love and I

love what I do

even that college photograph you know I

find that that's me now speaking to

audiences just like you in July all

turned 50 I have more energy and zest

for life than when I was 30 it's never

too late to be fulfilled


it's too bad that my dad can't be here

with us today but I think he's looking

down with an exotic bird on his shoulder

beaming with pride and I'm telling you

right now he's not wearing a dress shirt

right mom if there's something seriously

lacking in your life if you're feeling

down hopeless unfulfilled remember life

is too short and time too precious

whether you're a student a CEO or an

at-home parent everyone deserves to live

a rich and fulfilling life find

something you love to do do it with

great love

risk doing it despite your doubts and

fears and above all do it for someone or

something beyond yourself